Time for your weekly edition of the ASB Premiership Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, Auckland City's loss, football fashion crimes and the best and worst of the ASB Prem's social media accounts.
From Gareth, Wellington
I missed the Auckland City loss last night. What happened? Did they fire a shot?
Auckland's dream came crashing down in the 9th minute, when goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley fumbled an attempted punch and Sanfrecce Hiroshima tapped in, releasing the pressure valve and allowing the home team to park the bus.
Sounds crazy doesn't it? The best team in Japan sitting deep with nine or ten men behind the ball against a bunch of part-timers from New Zealand. But the strategy worked, with Hiroshima strangling their way to victory with explosive counter attacks and an iron curtain defence.
Auckland never looked like scoring but they did dominated the heck out of the possession stats, which is a bit like winning the Fair Play award at an age-group tournament. Unfortunately, the majority of their 67% possession was in the defensive third and Auckland only managed one shot on goal.
But they showed enough to suggest the gap between the best in the ASB Premiership and the best in Asia isn't that wide. Coach Ramon Tribulietx has further enhanced his reputation as a tactical master and Solomon Island speedster Micah Lea'Alafa will now need an agent after impressing with lightning quick speed and skill on the word stage.
But after being so spoiled by last year's incredible run, this campaign will go down as a missed opportunity, spoiled by two very costly goalkeeping errors.
From Nathan, Manurewa
It felt to me like Auckland City's game last night fell under the radar a bit - do you guys agree?
Anderson: In some ways, it did, but I think our perspective was blurred because of how well they did last time, where the whole nation jumped on the bandwagon as they provided upset after upset.
However, if we looked back to the start of the last tournament, before we knew they would go on the magical run, their opening game was probably limited in interest to just the football community.
The carry-over effect from 2014 definitely caused an uptick in both media and fan interest for their opener this time around, but I think the 11.45pm start time would have turned away a bunch of potential viewers, who couldn't watch the game in at work and get caught up in the hysteria like they were able to last year.
From Trinny, Remuera
Football coaches/managers usually fall into two categories - those who wear tracksuits, and those who wear suits.
But WaiBop coach Peter Smith defies categorisation in that he usually wears a Shetland pullover in the dugout. (Should WaiBop's nickname be "The Jersey Boys"?)
Is this an ASB Premiership first? Is it a football fashion crime? And who are the best and worst-dressed coaches?
Just as you never notice a referee when he is doing a good job, you should hardly ever notice what a coach is wearing. It is always tragic when the coach's wardrobe gains a fan's attention.
But Peter is not the first jersey boy. Auckland City coach Ramon Tribuluetx has also been spotted in a V neck jersey (albeit without a tie) as well.
It's not a fashion crime to the extent of skinny-legged tracksuits on anyone older than Justin Bieber, socks pulled over the knees, the top button done up on polo shirts, or the high zip gone wrong on a tracksuit jacket.
But the jersey-with-tie does scream mid-tier civil service. It's the look you associate with the teacher taking fourth form detention, the officer who signs your probation forms, or the chap who cuts your benefit.
Smith is not at the cutting edge of coach couture, but there is at least a sense of neatness.
In the old days you judged the seniority of a coach simply by the length of his coat. A full-length trenchcoat indicated you were very senior indeed. These days its more complicated, particularly in summer when coats aren't required.
Allan Jones - Auckland City's founding coach - was probably the national league's most sartorially elegant coach. At the other end of the scale, it's too hard to say who is the most disheveled - you could probably throw a tracksuit over the lot of them - but we invite submissions.
From Stan, Wellington
Hey guys, with New Zealand Football no longer having live updates on their website, I've been told to be on Twitter to keep up with the scores. What team Twitter accounts are the best ones to follow?
Anderson: Good question Stan, and I've taken it upon myself as someone who occasionally gets put in charge of team Twitter accounts to give everyone the rundown on each team's social media presence.
Auckland City - @AucklandCity_FC Probably the best in game tweeters - I have heard some complaints about overkill but I figure if you follow the team's account, you probably want to hear about how they are going on. Capitalising every LAST NAME might take some getting used to, but overall, if you're looking for information with added extras like videos and graphics, they're the team to go to.
The only turn-off of the account? Retweeting seemingly every single thing in their mentions. Definitely worth a follow but maybe utilise the "turn off retweets" function.
Waitakere United - @WaitakereUnited A perfectly solid Twitter account. Gives updates of all their home games, keeps people posted on their away games and youth teams, and retweets relevant info. Perhaps short on colour and extra material but serves every functional purpose required by a team social media account.
WaiBOP United - @WaiBOPUnited One of the best in the league - they go above and beyond requirements, providing that dose of extra interactivity and slightly out-of-the-box ideas which puts them up an extra level from good to very good. The only downside would be the occasional one-eyed tweet or coded complaint about the referee, but when you consider that Waikato FC had no idea how to use social media, WaiBOP's efforts are a huge step up.
Hawke's Bay United - @HawkesBayUnited Much like Waitakere United, Hawke's Bay effectively get the job done, with regular updates which don't reach overkill territory. Although the tweet subjects are mainly bread-and-butter stuff, the account has a bit of spice and style to it, and gets huge bonus points from not deleting this superb tweet and just absolutely owning it.
Team Wellington - @TeamWelly One of the best - check out these fancy graphics! Proficient with their updates, the Wellingtonians do a great job and whoever does those graphics deserves a raise. My only question - what's with the "Striker" name? This is an important question which needs to be answered.
(PS: The Wellington Phoenix Reserves miss out because they just get to leech off the main Nix account with regular updates).
Canterbury United - @CU_Dragons Most Improved Tweeters. Formerly a fairly quiet account from memory, Canterbury now have their own TV channel for interviews, relatively snazzy graphics and goalscoring photos which are literally fire. Nicely done.
Southern United - @southern_united Oh Southern. The long-time whipping boys of the league are bottom of the ladder here as well, but not through lack of effort. They have photos of warm-ups and team lists, and the goalscoring graphic, but they haven't quite grasped the fact that you need to put spaces in between account names. To wit:
The information is there, but geez it makes for some hard reading.
All in all - for the league to be in a place where there are eight active social media accounts is a great spot to be in, not to mention accounts of teams not even in the league yet (Looking at you, North Shore City). Hopefully it'll continue with the new league format.
From Jeremy, Waiheke Island
Who is the fastest player in the ASB Premiership?
And before you say Sean Lovemore, let me add some gravy. I'm thinking in terms of a player who can control the ball at the same time as running fast.
Holloway: Pace in football is something that has always fascinated me, probably because I never had any of it. I grew up appreciating strikers who succeeded despite their lack of pace, like your Teddy Sheringhams, your Matt Le Tissiers, your Fred De Jongs...
But there were times in my domestic football career where I was made to feel particuarly sluggish. I was once in a team with Lovemore, Roy Krishna, Allan Pearce and Ryan De Vries, four of the quickest players the ASB has ever seen, and would often use the 'hammies are a bit tight' excuse to get out of any embarrassing sprint drills among the strikers at training.
But from that lineup, Lovemore would win. Before he had a year off in 2013 with a serious (knee?) injury, he was electric. He probably still is the quickest player in the league, but may have lost a yard from his Phoenix days (remember when he came off the bench once for the Phoenix and was the fastest player anyone had seen?). But if you're asking for a combination of speed AND control, then you can't go past Auckland's Micah Lea'alafa. The Solomon Islander glides past players with the guile, pace and control of a rich man's Benji Totori and is currently the most exciting player to watch in the league. Special mention also should go to Wellington's Luis Corrales who is well past his quickest years but is still rapid.
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